In His Eyes

Last night, long after my eldest and youngest were snuggled up in their wee beds, I laid on the couch, snuggled so firmly in my blankets that I looked (and felt) like a marshmallow peep – and not even one of those kicky-shaped ones – trying to figure out if watching a documentary about female serial killers was the best viewing option while dealing with the dreaded “D Word.”

Before I could get too far into my decision-making, I heard the gentle pitter-patter of what I presumed were tiny boy feet shuffling down the stairs.

“Alex?” I called into the hallway, entirely unsure if the noise I was hearing was the cats barreling through the hallway like they’d just taken a particularity awesome dump.

patter, patter, patter

“Hi Mama,” he said sheepishly, his big eyes, so similar to my own keenly watching me, knowing he was out of bed too late and that I may (but probably not) reprimand him.

“Hi Baby,” I replied, opening my arms wide so he could jump into them and snuggle with me a moment. “Whatchu need, Little One?” I asked gently, moving the hair out of his eyes and scratching his head lightly with my fingers, which he loves.

“Mama,” he looked at me, his eyes so soulful, as if he could see what was behind my own eyes and liked what he saw. “Mama, I’m hungry. I didn’t want to tell you before because (mumbles) but I’m hungry.”

I laughed a little, which came out as a chocked representation of a laugh – the kid is always coming up with weird requests, trying to stall bedtime as long as he could. Sleep, even as a fetus, has always been elusive for Alex, and as a fellow insomniac, I understand all-too-well.

“Whatchu hungry for, Baby?” I asked.

“Mama,” he said, scurrying around the kitchen looking for it, “I smell pizza.”

“I don’t know about that, Baby – we don’t have any pizza,” I explained, “but maybe we could make some tomorrow.”

“How about I give you some crackers to go back to bed with – I know how it is to be hungry,” I suggested.

He thought about it a moment, his small face squinching into a mask of uncertainty – the same look I get when I’m asked what I want from Starbucks – eventually replying, “Yeah, like in a baggie?” His face lit up like a Christmas tree.

“Sure, Baby, I can do that,” I said, pulling out the box of Saltines and handing him exactly five while he scampered off to find me a baggie to put them in. For some reason, Ziploc baggies are like kid-crack in my house.

“Why’d you give me five?” he asked, always looking the gift horse in the mouth.

“Because YOU’RE five,” I told him.

“So when I’m six, I’ll get six?” He asked.

“Yeppers!” I replied.

“How many do YOU get, Mama?” he asked.

“Well, I don’t usually eat Saltines, Baby, but if I did, I’d get 32,” I replied.

“You’d waste them ALL,” he said, eyes widening. “Because you don’t like them. How about you give ME 32, instead, so we don’t waste them?” My con-man, at his finest.

“Next time I get 32 Saltines, Baby, I’ll give them all to you,” I assured him. Because I would. Those things taste like sawdust and pregnancy.

I followed my middle child and his baggie of crackers up the stairs, where I tucked him in. “You gonna come check on me, Mama?” he asks, as he does every night.

“Yep, of course, Baby,” I assured him. “I always do.”

“How about in 30?” he asked, specifying no frame of time in particular – could be days, hours, minutes or seconds.

“Okay, Lovie, in 30,” I said, a smile – the first of the day – playing on the corners of my lips.

I went back downstairs, my children tucked neatly in their beds again and resumed my internal debate – to watch women serial killer documentaries or pick something blander – I couldn’t decide, which turned out to be a good thing, because the next thing I heard was:

patter, patter, patter

Alex, again.

“Whatchu doing, Baby?” I asked.

He sat down next to me in my blanket cocoon, where I once again wrapped my arms around him. “Mama?” he said. “I’m sorry you’re so sad.”

Tears welled up in my already-raw eye sockets (pro tip: do not use paper towels as Kleenex while hysterical. Leaves you looking like you have had a particularly bad chemical peel), as I tried to figure out what to say.

“I’m not sad with you, Baby,” I assured him. “Sometimes grown-ups get sad because stuff happens that they don’t expect.”

His eyes, wise beyond his years, nodded.

“But you make me so very happy, J,” I finished. “You’ve made my life so much better.”

He smiled at that thought.

“The second you were born,” I told him, “You made my life better. I was so happy – I’d wanted another little baby so badly and there you were.”

“I peed on the doctor, right?” he asked, giggling.

“You sure did,” I said proudly.

“I was in a bad place when I got pregnant with you,” I went on.

“Like a deep pit?” he asked, always one to make a superhero connection.

“Yeah, Baby, like a deep pit. But it wasn’t a real pit; it was in my head,” I said, hoping to dissuade the notion that I’d been trapped in a well or down at Old Man Crusty-Balls farm – whatever the Scooby Doo shit was.

“Wait – how was it in your head?” he said as I realized I’d just gone above-level on the poor guy.

I had a lot of really hard things happen for a long time and I was very, very sad,” I said, trying to explain as best I could.

Once more, I wrapped my arms around my squirmy son, and kissed his head, trying not to let the tears show.

“I’m sorry you were sad, Mama,” he said, clucking sympathetically.

“It’s okay, Baby, I wanted YOU to know how happy YOU make me,” I told him.

in-his-eyes

“I love you, Mama,” Alex said, holding me close. “You make ME happy.”

And with those three words, I knew that while everyone many people in my life may think I’m a fuck-up or a failure, in his eyes, I will always be Mama – and HIS Mama, she is no failure.

Until about age 16, but we’re not going there yet.

Maternity

For a third of my life now, I’ve been a mother.

I used to find Mother’s Day endlessly conflicting, especially as a new mother. Here was a day where I was supposed to celebrate being a mother, and there I was, working my ass off, trying to please the other mothers in my life; neither of whom particularly cared for me.

When I stopped trying to please them, I found that I was much happier.

I don’t feel conflicted anymore. Because while this is a holiday where I am supposed to be loved and cherished and honored by my children above all other mothers, I know that a shitty brunch of undercooked Eggs Benedict won’t ever say what your grimy outstretched arms do every day: you love me.

I know this.

So today is really about you, my children, the inexplicable three chunks of my heart forever walking around outside of my body. I’m not sure how they physically removed my heart and divided it up like that, but there you have it. In your veins, my blood flows; my heart pumps in your tiny, fragile chests.

I hope that you all grow to know how proud I am of you; how proud I am to know each of you. How I’ve marveled over each of your fingers and kissed them one by one while you slept on my chest as infants, and how my heart has swelled until I thought it would burst in my chest when you mastered something new.

How I’ve wept, wishing that I could save you the bumps and bruises that are coming down the road by taking them for you. How I want you to grow to be tall and proud, standing up for what you believe in and helping those who have no voice. How I want you to be sure that there is so, so much good in this crazy, mixed up world, and how I want you to add to this good by being who you are.

Because you are all such wonderful people.

I hope that you can forgive me for the mistakes I’ve made. I’m bound to fuck you up in all sorts of ways I can imagine and many that I can’t. I hope that you can forgive me for calling you crotch parasites (even though you all are) and teaching you to swear prolifically.

Preemptively, I’m sorry.

But there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not proud to call you all my children. So Happy Mother’s Day, my babies. Without you, I simply wouldn’t be me.

And a Happy Mother’s Day to you, my Pranksters. To all of you who have children to celebrate with here on Earth, to those of you who are struggling to be mothers, and to those of you whose treasures are in Heaven.

A Happy Mother’s Day to all of you.

EVERY Day Is Mother’s Day!

Because I am not just stupid, but a masochist too, I get the Pottery Barn catalogue in the mail. And then because ‘Torture’ is Aunt Becky’s middle name (second only to ‘Danger’), I open up the pages and begin to drool.

I enviously covet the end tables with razor sharp edges, designed to shear the fingers of small children off to the bone. I’m enraptured by the very thought of being able to place things on coffee tables aside from Little People and laundry without having to guard them with my (ample) body. I wish desperately that my house had some sort of theme other than “This Is Disposable Furniture Designed To Be Tossed When The Kids Get Older.”

I want to obsess over paint colors and throw pillows and bamboo knick-knacks while sipping an ice cold mojito while sitting on a brilliantly unstained white couch; the perfect weight for my frame, my nails and hair impeccably styled into the latest cutting edge fashion. In my secret fantasy, I’m able to cook meals other than Mac-n-Cheese and pasta and enjoy them at the temperature and consistency that they were intended to be.

Then, as quickly as I began, I throw the stupid catalogue at my ugly green walls covered with fingerprints and pencil–Alex’s favorite mode of expression–and laugh. I laugh deeply.

Because I know that some day, my dinner will be hot when I eat it, my walls will be The Perfect Color, I’ll be able to fit in a size with a number versus a letter.

Someday I will have time to get my nails, my hair, my tummy tuck done. My clothes will be unstained by vomit and boogers. My television will play marathons of Whatever Deep Shit Is On Public Television rather than Wow-Wow-Wubzy and my dining room table won’t be home to towers of wooden blocks.

My windows won’t be covered with streaky hand-prints and finger-prints and my backyard will be a sanctuary rather than a repository for toys.

(To my neighbors: I’m sorry. Truly)

And I know I’ll look back, sitting alone in my big house, my perfect coiffed hair, my artfully arranged life and I will remember these as the happiest days of my life.

Because they are.

I am the luckiest person I know.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. Those with kids here on Earth, those with kids in Heaven, those who are trying to have kids. Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you.

mothers-day

Enough of that sappy shit, Mom. There’s hands to be nom, nom, nomed.

dave-n-becky

Further proof that Daver and I may be the Missing Links.

Also, I cannot wait until I can pick up my kids from Junior High looking JUST AS AWESOME. Because, bwahahahaha!

becky-thumbs-up

Caption me. No, really, caption me.

Looks Like It’s Suicide For Me. AGAIN.

You guys are too nice. You need to make me work a HELL of a lot harder for your votes. Come on, make me post about something. Ask me to write about something you’ve been up nights wondering about. I’ve now moved above the grocery blog which is rad, but I’m going to lose to Dooce. Doesn’t everyone?

Because I was raised by a couple of stinking hippies, I was singing “We Shall Overcome” and “Blowin’ In The Wind” while I toddled around in my cloth diaper, occasionally being stuck by a rogue pin. I was forced to listen to both Pink Floyd and Peter, Paul and Mary by my mother, who would frequently play a record over and over ad nauseum until my ears bled. I still tremble at the thought of having to listen one more fucking time to “If I Had A Hammer.”

It probably wasn’t until after I was in college before I realized that I could listen to music and like it just because it made me feel good. Not because it had a deeper meaning or because it meant something or because it protested something. Just because it made me happy or made me want to get on the table and dance my (white girl) ass off.

In that vein, I happily dragged my husband out to get the new Britney record on the day it was released. While he wondered if his testicles had been put into a jar on a shelf in our garage somewhere, I (pathetically) bopped out to some funky fresh jams. It beat the hell out of the emo shit Dave normally plays, or as I like to call it “Suicide Rock.”

Shockingly, though, I don’t only listen to bubble gum pop. On my I’m Feeling Acutely Sorry For Myself Days (oh, like YOU don’t have those days too), I like nothing more than listening to Leonard Cohen.

I remember ages ago watching a Saturday Night Live episode with my dad late one night (perhaps on a SATURDAY NIGHT? Get it?!?) and they did a sketch on a Leonard Cohen Fan Convention. I hadn’t been introduced properly to Mr. Cohen at that point, but I do remember that everyone was wearing mournful black clothing (berets even, perhaps, if my mind serves me) and many of them committed suicide while they listened to his music.

It’s only funny if you know his music. Because it’s true.

While I’m not a big Take To My Blog To Piss And Moan kind of person, these past couple of months have been excruciatingly rough for me. I’ve honestly hit the point where I’m wondering, Hey, is this LIFE? Is life really just one stupid fucking crisis after another? Because yeah.

So, what does a person at her wits end do?

a) Consider joining a nunnery

b) Sell herself to the gypsies.

c) Pay the gypsies to take her away

d) Listen to depressing ass music.

While the other three options are great choices, I chose number d. Because I like sex and I hate moving.

And my poor daughter has now grown up on a steady diet of Leonard Cohen, which cannot possibly be good for her development. I should probably switch to Pantera if I want her not to grow up to be an emo chick, right? So now, whenever I put on some “Hallelujah,” Amelia smiles her ever-loving head off.

Guess that’s better than contemplating suicide.

amelia-is-emo

See! Look! She’s trying to decide how best to get upstairs and get some black eyeliner and the new Cure album (is there a new Cure album?).

The ‘N’ Word

Before I met The Daver, I loved the holidays. When I say loved, I mean LOVED, the kind of love that implies that I would be happiest in my life if I could stay home, make babies with Christmas, hump the leg of Easter every night, and make sweet (yet spooky!) love to Halloween. It was a time of year that I revered: from the sparkling lights to the tacky blow-up house decorations, I loved it all. In my mind, they could have played Christmas music 24 by 7 by 365 and I would have said nothing aside from “CRANK THAT PUPPY TO 11!”

And while I use my chance meeting of The Daver as a marker for When Good Holidays Go Bad, it’s not really his fault (somewhere, perhaps on a train, he is sitting in shock, mouth agape that I would NOT blame him for something). But with the addition of The Daver meant a whole extra set of people with a whole extra set of restrictions as to when and where holidays could be celebrated.

That coupled with the aging of Ben in addition to the extra set of restrictions that celebrating with Nat’s family implied, meant that the holidays had gone from being something that I just showed up with gifts and cookies for into a carefully orchestrated several weeks in which every spare nanosecond was accounted for.

Our holiday schedule went something like this: drive three hours into Wisconsin for breakfast at precisely 9 AM at specific diner where we all had to eat pancakes and sausage (it IS Wisconsin, arguably the sausage capitol of the world. Or something.), sit for exactly and hour and fifteen minutes with 2 bathroom breaks. Then loop through the upper peninsula of Michigan to climb the warthog infested mountain of snow in order to secure the holy grail of rare beer for XX family member. Stop for gas and bathroom break on way to Arizona to drop of package for other family member who’d forgotten to mail it. At 11 PM, on the way home, finally have lunch at an oasis McDonald’s.

We came back from that first holiday, The Holiday Of The Ghost Of Our Future, and I wept openly for several hours while Dave chewed his nails and paced the floors. We were both just tapped out and exhausted, and as for Ben, he was so overwrought and inconsolable that this ickle expenditure undid about 3 months worth of previous therapy.

And after a lengthy, exhausted discussion we came to two realizations:

1) We did it to ourselves when we stopped saying The ‘N’ Word when asked to participate in holiday this or that.

2) We would not do this again to ourselves or our family. Rather than saying “Yes” to the question of if we COULD do something, we’d decide it based upon the idea that we SHOULD.

So, in an effort to cut ourselves neatly out of any possible inheritance, we stopped agreeing to do everything we were asked to do for the holidays. COULD we do something? Probably. But SHOULD we? Not at all.

The Daver and I have put on our thinking caps and tried just about every combination of Possible Holiday Merriment that would allow us even the slightest hint of joy during a time of year that is supposedly all about joy, and each and every year, we break down and weep openly (okay, this is a SLIGHT exaggeration). It’s just not possible to Do It All and still enjoy the holidays that I once treasured.

And the kicker of the whole thing is this: we run ragged to appease everyone for a good reason. They all just want to see us and spend time with us. ALL AT ONCE. While this is completely admirable (I mean who wouldn’t want to spend time with us? WE’RE FULL OF AWESOME.), it’s also completely unfair this particular year.

So I put my foot down and used the dreaded ‘N’ word yet again. Rather than celebrate Christmas 5 different times (for poor Ben this would now be 7 times, and not a soul is divorced here), I said no.

The kicker for the whole situation is this: while I know that this is The Right Thing To Do For My Family, I still feel guilty about not being able to do it all. I gave myself a pass on all of the normal holiday shit that I love to do (read: cookies and cards and fancy wrapping paper) and am not doing because I’m barely functioning anymore. And yet, using the ‘N’ word this time, is making me feel just terrible.

Like I’ve used the “I have my period” card twice in a month to get out of swimming class.

I guess I don’t get it. Why does doing the right thing for my family make me feel so bad?

How do you guys manage the holidays with all of the assorted obligations–and guilt, let’s not forget guilt–that come as naturally with it as Bing Crosby? Is it something that you just suck up and deal with (thereby making you unhappy) for the sake of pleasing other people? Or have you used the ‘N’ word and decided that the holidays being about family means YOU too?

The Scars That Never Quite Heal

After Ben was born, I took a long hard look at my educational experience and decided rather than a future where I asked people if they would prefer fries or a salad with that, I’d change my career path entirely. To a field I knew I didn’t like, but would provide me with a real income: nursing.

Nursing school, for those not in the know, requires a schedule that between the hospital hours and the classroom hours, you barely have a chance to wipe your own ass. Both living 45 minutes away from school and any hospital I might be stationed in meant that I was out of the house for an additional hour and a half (at the very least).

Ben’s father also lost his job around this time, and refusing to get another one in his field, he waited for over a year to find a new job. Which meant that insurance for Baby Ben needed to be purchased. So I went back to work as a waitress (where I did ask if people would like fries with that) for the few remaining hours left once nursing school took it’s share.

I’d moved Ben and I back in with my parents once I realized that my future with Nat was going to be measured in the minutes rather than years category, and I relied heavily on my mother to help me out with taking care of Ben.

It was an ideal arrangement in many regards: it was free, easy, and didn’t involve being verbally abused most days. But in terms of drawbacks, there were many. First and foremost, my parents didn’t seem to believe that I had the capacity to take care of a baby myself, and questioned most of the decisions I made by issuing massive ultimatums.

To give you an example for contexts sake, I’ll tell you of how at about 2 months of age, I took Ben to the doctor to get his shots. Typical, right? Well, that evening, I decided to take Ben (who had kept me up most of the night thanks to the reversal of his days and nights) to Nat’s parents house, where I could get some rest alone. My mother, telling me how selfish and horrid I was for taking Ben out when his immune system was “delicate,” (apparently, in her world, shots = immunosuppression) informed me that if I did this, she would not watch him for me for a week.

Not exactly the sort of decisions I would expect to lose me babysitting privileges or anything. It wasn’t like I was deciding which bar to take him to or which bong hit to blow in his face. I may have been young, but I wasn’t stupid.

But I learned pretty quickly that in order to both keep the peace and prevent my mother from having a breakdown of sorts and thus losing my only babysitting option (I was broke as a joke after buying diapers, formula, and insurance for Ben), I kept my mouth shut. It seemed easier that way.

When I was feeling especially bad about the whole situation, I’d imagine a time when I would no longer live with them and I could parent as freely as I chose.

Being gone approximately 23 hours a day had the unfortunate side effect of not being able to spend much time with my bizarre young son. He wasn’t diagnosed as autistic until he was 2, so I spent those two years feeling pretty miserable about myself each and every time I was ignored or screamed at by him when I’d go in for a hug. Even as a baby, he preferred to play alone on the floor rather than be held by me.

Time marched on and his eccentricities grew. And in addition, something I’d never really expected to happen occurred: he formed his only attachment to my mother. It made sense, I mean, I was gone all the time, I couldn’t exactly imagine how dropping out of school to be his full time caregiver would help us in the long run, so I comforted myself by remembering how plenty of kids went to daycare every day. And they still (presumably) loved their parents.

I graduated school a year after Ben’s autistic diagnosis, and a couple months after that, I married Dave. We moved out together officially after school was done, and I was finally able to parent my strange child without someone critiquing my every move.

I hoped that with each passing day, with each thoughtful art project he screamed at, with every plate of food he wept into, with all of the things I did for him, that his attachment to my mother would lessen somewhat. I didn’t want to replace her, and even in my anger and disgust with her, I never would have taken Ben away from her (or vice versa) for good, but I wanted to be okay, too. I wanted him to care for me, too.

It’s been 3 and a half years since then, and I wish I had some glowing report, like “and now he loves me, too!” but I don’t. Or if I did, it would be a lie. It’s like he’s a Siamese cat or something and can only bond to one person, and one person only. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, how much I try, how terrible and guilty I feel, I can’t even compare to her in his mind.

I try my best to imagine any sort of scenario in which he doesn’t break down into tears when she leaves or when he’s forced to do something with his parents, I try to come up with any solution that would not diminish who she is to him, but highlight the fact that I’m okay too, but I can’t. There’s no good way to rectify the damage that was done to him by my perpetual absence (no matter how necessary it was at the time) in those obviously critical months.

And there’s no way to rectify the damage that’s been done to me, either. I want nothing more than to have a normal relationship with Ben, but it just doesn’t seem to come to us, no matter what I do. I want to not care when he cries for her. I want to smile knowingly when he tells me how much he wishes he were with her. I want it to not feel like my heart is being cut out of my chest cavity and thrown onto the floor whenever I’m reminded of this.

But I can’t seem to make any of this happen, no matter how hard I try. And I don’t know what to do.

Classic One-Uppence

“Gah, these shoes don’t fit.”

“Well, at least you HAVE shoes. Some people don’t even have shoes, Becky!”

“I know this, but MY feet hurt NOW.”

“Becky, some people don’t even have FEET. They just have worn down bloody stumps of legs that they have to walk on to go to work every day. Can you imagine how THAT feels?”

I knew someone who was more than willing to remind you of how good you have it while other people suffered unimaginable and unspeakable tragedies. I’d call him a friend, but it’s really not what he was, and his purpose was valiant: sometimes it *is* important to remember how fortunate you really are and be reminded of how crappy things can be.

Other times, you just want some freaking sympathy.

I’m fortunate, I suppose, that I have two leading ladies in my life (my mother and my mother-in-law) who will both stop at nothing to remind me, while I whinge on and on about something as trivial as sleeping properly (I have insomnia while pregnant), that there are always people who are worse off than I happen to be.

Those people happen to be: THEM.

Most of the time I can ignore this, although after years of being +1 as a child, I’m particularly sensitive to it. A childhood riddled with illness (on my part, I was a sickly kid) only punctuated by a mother who often would take to her own bed whenever the puke began a-spewing, because she was “afraid she would get it, too,” tends to make one overreact to this as an adult. (She never got the stomach flu, ever).

Nowhere is this more evident than when I have a baby.

Because both my mother and my mother-in-law have had children (obviously) and because those children who married (The Daver and myself) began to produce heinous babies (much like our baby selves, if legend is to be believed), babies do happen to be something that they do have experience in.

No sooner do I exclaim that I’m “having a hard time walking” after delivery because “my son’s head gave me 4th degree tears and I nearly bled out,” than does one, then the other chime in with one of these two nuggets:

1)”Well, *I* didn’t have an epidural when I delivered YOU.”

or

2) “Well, *I* had a C-section. I didn’t walk for DAYS afterward because I had a HUGE ABDOMINAL INCISION.”

Not really the “Okay, honey, I’ll have the nurse bring you your pain pills now” I was hoping for.

Even more frustrating comes months later, after having had no more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep a night for the preceding (pick a number, any number) months. Without bothering to take into account the tears that are spouting from my eyes (without being punched!), the puffy black circles under my eyes, and the fact that I look pretty much like I was run over by a truck named Alex, the moment I say, “I’m so tired,” before bursting into hysterical tears, it’s time to play Whose Pain Was Worse again.

I’m met with any number of response, none of which happens to involve what I want to hear, “Yeah, Alex is quite a handful. You look like ass. I’m sorry you’re struggling so very much. Do you want to give him back now?” Or really what I needed to hear: “It will get better soon, I promise.”

No, what I hear are things like this:

“Well, (insert YOU or Dave here) were AWFUL BABIES. You cried ALL THE TIME. I almost went INSANE.”

Then they look back smugly at my puffy, tear-stained face and wait for me to say…I’m not sure what they want me to say, but I have a feeling that what they really want is some sort of apology or recognition for the horrors of infant hood that they experienced with Dave and I.

Problem is, have you ever tried to feel sympathy for someone who has gone through something similar to what you’re going through while your wracked with such terrible PPD that you are honestly thinking suicide is probably the best bet for a good night’s sleep? Especially when that sympathy is for something that happened 28 or more YEARS AGO?

It’s damn near impossible.

Were I to have this same conversation now, after Alex has been sleeping through the night pretty regularly since about 11 months of age, I could try and at least PRETEND to feel sorry for them. We could cluck, commiserate, and move the hell on with our days.

With (crosses fingers furiously) a new baby on the horizon come January, I know that this is bound to spring up again, and while I’ve tried to steel myself for it, I think it’s high time for me to mention my quandary to them.

I don’t expect that it will lead to tearful apologies or hugs or anything remotely maternal from either of them, as that’s not the way either of them happen to behave, but I want them to realize that what they are doing is NOT helpful. If it’s infuriated me so very much that I’m already dreading it, I think that the adult thing to do is not to look the other way (like The Daver suggested) and change the subject. If they’re not going to change what they do (and I sincerely doubt they would) and are going to continue to look for sympathy from me during this time, they should, at the very least, know that they’re upsetting me.

But I don’t really know how to handle the situation and to diffuse it without screaming at them, which is simply Not Done in my family. I’d love to yell, “If you’re looking for sympathy, you can find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis,” but I do like my familial gatherings sans drama.

What would you do, if you were me? Any and all suggestions (besides telling me what a trite bitch I am being) are welcome. Would you pull a The Daver (it doesn’t bother him, mainly because it has nothing to do with him) and ignore and redirect or would you make mention that this is bothering you?

And then dish, lovers. Tell me what kind of +1 people do to YOU.

Anti-Mother’s Day

In theory, I like the idea of Mother’s Day.

It’s the one day out of the year that I get to openly celebrate having my two kids with both of them, I get to be as bitchy as I want and do whatever the fuck I please whenever the hell I please it. Go tanning without a gummy toddler pulling up on the tanning bed? Check. Pedicure without trying to corral a six year old? Fan-fucking-tastic. I can sleep in, I can make my family wait on me hand and foot, and it’s theoretically flipping awesome.

In practice, however, I fucking hate it. I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns, I hate it passionately, and I hate Hallmark for making it such a big damn deal.

I’ve been a mother now for seven years, and each year I grow more sullen and resentful of having to celebrate it. The closer it gets, the more I openly dread it.

No matter that I’m the only one in the family with young children, the only one who still gets up overnight, and the only one who makes sure everything runs as smoothly as possible for my kids.

It’s never about me. It just isn’t.

Mother’s Day is never a celebration of any of the things that I do (or in some cases don’t do), it’s about pleasing the two other mothers in my life: neither of which a) cares for me much or b) acknowledges me in any way shape or form (even if I have recently popped a child from my cooter).

To keep the peace, I have to make damn certain that my husband I go and pick a card for his mother and some small token to say thank you to her (never mind that our tastes are completely dissimilar). Then I have to swallow my incredibly complicated feelings for my own mother and make sure to pick her out something special.

I know this makes me sound incredibly selfish and spoiled, like I don’t want to share the day with either of them or something, but I assure you that’s not it. I adore thinking of other people, buying them something thoughtful, and watching them enjoy it. Seriously, that’s my favorite part of Christmas.

It’s just that whatever I do is not acknowledged unless I don’t do it. The year that I forgot to remind Dave pick up a card for his mother myself and send it myself (which I always do), he got an angry phone call.

The year that I didn’t realize that Mother’s Day was a big ass deal for my own mother (it had never, ever been before), I got the world’s meanest letter written to me and placed on my pillow. The words “fuck” and “you” were prominent features there (yes, this was written by my mother, and I was 19), as were just about any insult you could imagine.

And if I do make sure to do the thoughtful things for these women (neither of whom are maternal to me in any way), I don’t even get a ‘thank you,’ or a “Happy Mother’s Day to you, too, Becky.” It’s expected that I spend the day with one or both of them (if not THAT day, at least 2 separate weekends) and not celebrate it for myself.

The fact that no one in my family (either side) ever even says ‘thank you’ for anything that I do hurts me, but for some reason, maybe I’m being a silly bitch, the fact that I go out of my way for two people who don’t even really like me (I’m actually being less melodramatic than it seems. Seriously) on a day that is technically “my day” too really hurts me even more.

It hurts me much more than I’d let on, so much so that Dave has officially called Mother’s Day off for the year. He’s so tired of watching me cry over it (it’s been 5 years of weeping. Not continuously, of course. That would be creepy) that he’s doing the only thing he can do (my family is not the sort to address these things). We’re going to do something to celebrate with just the four of us and that’s all.

He’s just done watching me get hurt by our families, and because we just don’t address stuff like that out in the open like normal people (I did tell you it was a note that my mother left me, right?), and we probably never will, and he’s just putting an end to it. I don’t need to “remember” these two women who refuse to “remember” me any more.

Maybe this makes me a selfish bitch, maybe it just marks the dawn of a new era of not taking bullshit from my family, maybe it’s just a false threat; I don’t know. All I do know is this: I am finally more at peace with the whole holiday than I’ve been the whole time I’ve been a mother.

Am I asking too much?

The Secret Life Of Becky

After I returned from the pharmacy yesterday, OCP and Vitamin Z in my grubby hands, I made sure to skim all of the information they had given me (is it just me, or is that stuff almost impossible to read? Seriously, I felt like I needed a magnifying glass AND I AM NOT EVEN REMOTELY FARSIGHTED.), looked over the list of potential side effects (mainly for the Zoloft, which people have reported drowsiness AND wakefulness. Helpful when you are trying to figure out when to take it, eh?), and promptly hid this paper in the bottom of our paper recycling bin.

Then I took my first dose and hid the bottle.

Who the hell am I hiding this from?

Simple answer, that one: my mother. She comes each day and takes my big son to school while watching my ickle one for me so that I might catch up on some sleep.

Now, as open as I am about most things in my family (both of my parents were there for the birth of Ben and only missed watching Alex make his screamy decent because they were watching Ben for us. It is safe to say that they have seen the intimate parts of my delicate girl-hood AND I DIDN’T EVEN CARE.) I cannot admit that I have PPD to my mother.

It’s actually not about shame, as I am not ashamed of this problem (now that I have admitted I have a problem, I am just going to focus my energy on fixing it) in any way shape or form. Like everyone else, I am only human, and although I may have a not-so-secret desire to be a Transformer (more than meets the eye!), I have accepted and embraced my limitations.

I have a problem and I am working toward a solution.

But, if I were to make this omission to my mother, I can all but assure you that this would turn into something else entirely. I don’t know if you know this, or if this is a unique thing to my mother, but depressed people (even if they’re not currently depressed) are some of the most obnoxious egocentric assholes I’ve met (worse than BMW drivers, even), and as such, telling them anything like this would quickly be turned around to how it affects them. Even if it doesn’t remotely affect them.

I’ll give you an example: when I was a kid, I happened to be one of those annoyingly sickly ones, you know, I was always in and out of school due to massive illnesses. My immune system sucked ass, and I would literally fall ill about every third or fourth week. It was awful. Strep throat was typically what plagued me, and I always knew when I was about to get it because I would begin vomiting copiously (it’s a wonder I have any enamel left on my teeth).

Before I got my tonsils out when I was much older (turned out they were completely necrotic, which is WHY I was always sick), I would have to sound the alarm to call the doctor whenever I started praying to the toilet bowl gods. About every other time this happened, my mother (who had not gotten sick since she was a child) would start moaning about the house dramatically until she had to “go to bed” because she was worried that she would get it to (she never actually did).

In that manner, she would shift all of the attention that I might have gotten onto her.

Rinse, repeat. Second verse, same as the first.

So, I learned pretty early on that these sorts of things were better left unsaid to her, and even as an adult, I’m pretty sure if I were to say how I’ve been feeling, she’d turn it around onto herself, and then I would have to listen to her talk about how SHE felt after she’d had my brother and I. It would quickly turn into a pity party for her, and I would be the sole invitee and as such, be forced to sympathize and cluck at her plight (even though it was at the earliest, 27 years ago).

(Trust me, I don’t want a pity party for myself, EVEN if you were to bring whine and cheese. Get it, “whine?” Oh, SNAP!)

So, tell your Aunt Becky, since now she knows that at least SOME of you understand what it’s like growing up with a nut for a mother/father/whatever, is this pretty typical? If not, what do YOU hide from your parents, even now as a grown adult?

Mother’s Little Helper

Rather than give me a script for some nice Valium or Percocet, one of my OB’s decided that it was a better solution to provide me with some Zoloft to take the edge off things. While I am actually happy about this, it’s not nearly as fun sounding as the other two drugs.

It’s interesting, I have no problems whatsoever in actually TAKING any meds (SSRI’s or not), it was just the initial diagnosis that got under my skin. And now I’m feeling kind of over my anxiety about it (and kind of over myself too, if you smell what The Becky Is Cooking) and ready to focus on (hopefully) feeling good enough to cause considerable mischief AND assorted mayhem.

While I was there, I took the opportunity to also get a prescription for some OCP’s. After Alex was born, there was a period where we were kind of “let’s see what happens,” and despite my previously voiced desires to have another kidlet (but only one more), Alex has managed to cure that ridiculous obsession.

2 kids sounds more than enough to me (at least for now), and besides, since my best friend is getting married in October, I don’t want to be the fat AND pregnant bridesmaid (nor do I want a wee newborn to have to come back from the festivities to care for. It’s even less fun than it sounds, I promise.)

Besides, I am sure whatever copay the insurance God’s foist upon me for these pills will easily cover the pee-stick craze (before you think that we were “trying” or anything, let me assure you that since my thyroid is STILL wonky, my periods come sporadically and obnoxiously. This always led to a “when did I have my period last” freak-out and an inevitable stick to stick in my pee. Ew. I hate that.), and I can stop wondering if every little twinge means another mini-Becky/Dave.

(It took long enough for us to get pregnant with Alex that I have little actual worry that one shot up the old bajina a month would do anything but cause a massive wet spot and subsequent leakage. God, I am sexy. And our sex life is what dreams are made of. Har-dee-har-har.)

I need to properly thank each and every one of you who thoughtfully commented and thought about me during this annoying (and not shining) part of my life. I’d invite you all over for coffee and cigarettes (and maybe, JUST maybe, to watch Rock of Love 2. I AM NOT OBSESSED OR ANYTHING.), but I don’t think anyone is even remotely close enough to do this. BUT IF YOU ARE COME OVER. I WILL EVEN SHAVE THE FORREST ON MY LEGS FOR YOU BECAUSE THAT IS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU.

Seriously, I always thought that I was one of the few (and not proud) who came from such a colorfully fucked up background. Now, I know that everyone has issues and skeletons and all that jazz, but I am literally FLOORED by how many of you have had similar situations with your parents.

It genuinely makes me wonder how we all aren’t more fucked up (I mean, I suppose you all could be dudes who live in Montana who are NOT actually who you say you are but are actually all named Dwight or Randy, but I doubt it.) as adults, and it further reinforces two things.

1) Not one of us is screwing up our children that badly. Unless they are chained to radiators in dank basements somewhere in your homes. In that case, maybe you are screwing them up. Sorry.

2) I am not alone, and I am honestly thrilled that I told you all about this (well, I’d be MORE thrilled if it weren’t the truth, because that would mean less hangups all around), because it only reinforces this to me.

Mental illness and the fear of it’s impending stronghold absolutely isolates you from everyone else, as it is easily assumed that everyone else around you is disgustingly normal, and the phrase “visit my mother/father at the mental hospital” can be more of a punch line than a reality. I mean, it sounds way funnier than it actually is.

Having done it more than I can even remember, knowing that the worst part is that she fit in there, and coming to grips with the fact that I was the only person in the (insert grade level here) doing this didn’t make real sleepover girl talk, you know?

So seriously, thank you from the bottom of my ickle heart to each and every one of you who saw fit to comment and make me feel like less a freak and more a person in need. I’d like to give you all a hug (but not in a smarmy way), so you’ll have to excuse the baby snot on my left shoulder and the animal cracker residue on my right boob and bear down.

It won’t hurt a bit.